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What Governor Youngkin is saying about the abortion pill ruling

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 10, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Justice Department on Monday appealed a Texas court ruling that would halt approval of a drug used in the most common method of abortion in the U.S., calling the decision “extraordinary and unprecedented." Nearly half of all Virginians who want to end a pregnancy do so by taking an oral medication, according to Planned Parenthood of Virginia.

Access to mifepristone, the most commonly used oral abortion pill, could soon be restricted in the Commonwealth and across the country.

On Friday, a Texas judge ruled to revoke the FDA's approval of mifepristone, arguing it was "not properly tested" when it was approved back in 2000.

That judge, Judge Matthew K. Kacsmaryk, also issued a seven-day stay on the order to give the administration time to respond.

It was the first time in history that a federal court has ordered the FDA to revoke its approval of a drug, despite objections from the administration and the drug manufacturer.

"We know that the majority of Virginians, and the majority of Americans who are ending a pregnancy are now choosing to do so using a medication abortion, and so this is an attack on sexual and reproductive healthcare across the nation," Jamie Lockheart, Planned Parenthood of Virginia's Executive Director, said.

 Jamie Lockheart with Planned Parenthood of Virginia
Jamie Lockheart with Planned Parenthood of Virginia

The National Institute of Health reported the drug was safe and effective, with a success rate of over 98% when used with misoprostol, another part of the abortion pill regimen.

More than 5 million people have used the drug over the last two decades.

"This drug, mifepristone, is used for mitigation abortions, but also for miscarriage management," Lockheart said. "And so, the attacks on this drug will have implications for people beyond those looking to end pregnancies."

mifepristone

Adding to the uncertainty was unresolved confusion Monday over a conflicting order by a different federal judge in the state of Washington, who within 20 minutes of Kacsmaryk's decision issued a separate ruling that directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats had sued.

Virginia is not on that list of states.

“We applaud the Judge’s decision. Women deserve better than to undergo abortion in their own home all alone with a set of pills that were mailed to them and didn't go through adequate safety checks by the FDA,” Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation, said.

According to Planned Parenthood, about 75% of Virginians do not want to see any further abortion restrictions, including any kind of restriction to an abortion pill.

Youngkin Weighs-In

"I don't have much of an opinion other than that's a judge's ruling and I had just taken a brief from our Attorney General, and it seems like there some of the legal process that's still to go, with the different ruling someplace else. So, as a governor, I'm just doing my job. And we'll just have to wait to see how that gets finalized," Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) said Monday when asked to share his thoughts on the ruling.

Glenn Youngkin
Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia)

Youngkin is a self-described pro-life governor who has said in the past he favored banning most abortions after 15 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

Mifepristone is still legally available for order with a prescription, even in states where abortion access is restricted.

It is used in conjunction with misoprostol, but misoprostol can be used on its own.

However, misoprostol-only medications work about 85-95% of the time, which could lead more people to have to go to a clinic to have an abortion performed.

"Those who have means, who can travel to access care, will likely be able to do so. So, we know that any abortion bans on restrictions on things like mifepristone are going to fall most disproportionately on people of color, people of low income, and people in rural communities who might not have the same access to healthcare that those in other communities have," Lockheart said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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